Changing industry standards for OEMs Enginers & contractors: one year on!

04/10/2015

In 1998, Google was founded, the first Apple iMac was introduced and the legendary Windows ’98 was released by Microsoft. In a less glamorous but equally important corner of industry, a new commission was being formed to revise the complex IEC 60439 industry standard, which governed the safety and performance of electrical switchgear assemblies. Although Windows ‘98 has long been consigned to history, the new industry standard – BS EN 61439 – only became mandatory on November 1, 2014.

One year on, Pat McLaughlin, Boulting Technology’s Operations Director, evaluates how original equipment manufacturers, panel builders, electrical engineers, consulting engineers and contractors have been affected by the new BS EN 61439 standard.

Boulting_BS_EN_61439

Why a new standard?
In a market where the demand to optimise and reduce costs blends heavily with higher needs for assembly flexibility, the introduction of a new set of standards was needed to guarantee the performance of Low Voltage Switchgear Assemblies.

Switchgear and Control Gear assemblies are multifaceted and have an endless number of component combinations. Before the introduction of the new standard, testing every conceivable variant was not only time consuming and costly, but impractical.

The intricate character of assemblies also meant that many did not fit into the previous two testing categories: Type Tested Assembly (TTA) and Partially Tested Assembly (PTTA). For example, panels which were too small to be covered by TTA and PTTA fell outside the standard. Finally, in the case of a PTTA, ensuring the safety and suitability of a design was often dependent strictly on the expertise and integrity of the manufacturer.

Design verification
The major change introduced by the new BS EN 61439 standard refers to testing. It states that the capabilities of each assembly will be verified in two stages: design verification and routine verification. This means the new standard completely discards the type-tested (TTA) and partially type-tested assemblies (PTTA) categories in favour of design verification.

Although BS EN 61439 still regards type testing as the preferred option for verifying designs, it also introduces a series of alternative routes to design verification.

The options include using an already verified design for reference, calculation and interpolation. The BS EN 61439 standard specifies that specific margins must be added to the design, when using anything other than type testing.

One of the main benefits of the new design verification procedure is its flexibility. Under the old BS EN 60439 specification customers would demand a Type Test certificate for each assembly particularly Incoming Air Circuit Breakers, which was very expensive and time consuming.

The new standard allows users and specifiers to pertinently define the requirements of each application. Annex D of the BS EN 61439 standard provides a list of 13 categories or verifications required, what testing method can be used and what comparisons can be made. In order to optimise testing time, the standard allows derivation of the rating of similar variants without testing, assuming the ratings of critical variants have been established by test.

Dividing responsibility
The second major change implemented by the new industry standard refers to the responsibilities of each party involved in the design, test and implementation of low voltage switchboard assemblies. Unlike BS EN 60439, which stated the OEM or the system manufacturer was solely responsible throughout the testing programme, the new standard divides the responsibilities between the OEM and the assembly manufacturer, or panel builder.

The new standard recognises that several parties may be involved between concept and delivery of a switchboard assembly. The OEM is responsible for the basic design verification. In addition, the assembly manufacturer is meant to oversee the completion of the assembly and routine testing.

For innovators like Boulting Technology, the new BS EN 61439 has brought more freedom and flexibility when designing switchboard assemblies. For example, Boulting Technology has designed and launched the Boulting Power Centre, a range of low voltage switchboards, which are available in 25kA, 50kA, 80kA and 100kA, fault ratings, and up to 6300Amp current ratings.

Although change is never much fun, it’s what technology and industry are all about. If this wasn’t the case, we would all still be using Windows 98 or the indestructible Nokia 5110.


ABB Process instrumentation, analytical technology and gas detection in Ireland

19/01/2015

Hanley Measurement & Control has built a reputation for the supply of specialist solutions and expertise in process instrumentation, process analytical technology and gas detection. Founded in 1981 it has long been considered as a leading automation in Ireland. The company has recently been appointed as channel partner in Ireland by ABB, to expand its instrument and analyser offering into the Irish process market

Left to Right: Chris Kennedy, Gavin O’Driscoll & Eoin O’Neill of Hanley Measurement & Control together with Aidan Edwards of ABB stand next to a representation of a 3 meter magnetic flowmeter (the largest every supplied!) during a recent visit to the ABB flow meter manufacturing facility in Stonehouse, GB.

Left to Right: Chris Kennedy, Gavin O’Driscoll & Eoin O’Neill of Hanley Measurement & Control together with Aidan Edwards of ABB stand next to a representation of a 2.4 meter magnetic flowmeter (the largest every supplied!) during a recent visit to the ABB flow meter manufacturing facility in Stonehouse, GB.

The partnership will see the company acting as the official sales agent for ABB’s complete portfolio of instrumentation and analyser products for applications in the pharmaceutical, chemical, food and beverage and other related industries.

Chris Kennedy, Managing Director of Hanley Measurement & Control commented that “partnering with ABB enables the company to provide its customers with an enhance product range specifically in relation to flow measurement and analytical solutions.”

Commenting on the partnership, Tim Door, General Manager for ABB’s Measurement and Analytics business in the Britain and Ireland says: “The partnership with Hanley Measurement and Control marks a positive move forward that underlines our intent to grow our presence in the Irish process market. The company is a great fit for our growing range of measurement and control products for improving process performance and efficiency.”

“Utilising a well-known and respected partner such as Hanley Measurement & Control will allow our customers in Ireland to get full access to support and service going forward into 2015 and beyond.”

• Following the completion of a management buyout Hanley Measurement & Control is no longer part of the Hanley group of companies. Hanley Measurement & Control is now a subsidiary of Eolas Scientific which also has an operating company in the UK called Eolas Technology. The management team of Chris Kennedy, Gavin O’Driscoll and Eoin O’Neill are committed to ensuring our customers receive exceptional service and a world class range of products.

Failure is not an option!

18/10/2014

ProSoft Technology’s PROFIBUS Modules and Industrial Radios allow critical data to be transmitted from ControlLogix PACs at Flood Defense System.

Failure is not an option when upgrading a flood barrier’s control system. Should a flood barrier malfunction, thousands of homes and businesses could be severely impacted.

Upgrading a flood barrier isn’t a task that can be done overnight. It takes months and months of work. The barrier has to remain available for use throughout the upgrade, making it a considered and careful task. There has to be several fail safe measures and redundancies in place. Whoever said redundancies are a bad thing hasn’t taken a look at a flood barrier system.

dartford_scheme

Two concrete towers stand 20 meters above the ground on either side of the mouth of Dartford Creek. This is the UK Environment Agency’s Dartford Barrier Flood Defense System in Kent, South East England. The barrier is routinely closed, in conjunction with the bigger Thames Barrier upstream, to prevent high tide water levels in the River Thames Estuary flowing back up the creek and flooding Dartford and the surrounding area.

Two steel gates, each 30-metre across and weighing over 160 tons each, are suspended at high level between the two concrete towers. Like a huge guillotine at the creek mouth, one gate may be slowly lowered on its supporting chains onto the river bed to block the flow of water. Then the second gate may be slowly lowered to rest onto the top of the first gate. When closed together, the 160 ton steel gates can withstand up to 10.4 meters of water.

The gates are raised and lowered by direct drive oil hydraulic motors. The drive system comprises two 18.5kW pump and motor units, providing both duty and standby facilities, enabling a gate to be raised or lowered in 15-minutes. When not in use both gate structures are safely held in the fully raised position and latched using hydraulic latch mechanisms. This permits vessels to pass underneath the gates along the creek.

It is envisaged that due to climate change that the barrier may need to operate an average of 50 times per annum over the next 25 years.

“The system has to be highly available with many fallback systems in case of failures,” said Andrew Garwood, a Senior Contracts Manager in the Controls Division of Qualter Hall & Co Limited, Barnsley (GB).

Just a couple of years ago, the control system was starting to show its age. As part of a large upgrade to the barrier, its associated control system was overhauled. The original control system was a completely hardwired based relay system that was over 30 years old. Spare parts for the 30 year-old system were becoming scarce.

Qualter Hall provided the M&E contracted works on behalf of the principal contractor Birse Civils, who had engaged Qualter Hall as the Systems Integrator for the project and as the Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Contractor in charge of upgrading the control system; they had several goals in mind. Number one was safety and reliability. Flooding, should it occur, could cause extensive damage to the surrounding area.

instrument_inst_DartfordQualter Hall, who provides an attractive ‘one stop shop’ for a multitude of engineering solutions, decided to call ProSoft Technology. Qualter Hall selected this company, because it was a reliable, cost effective solution that was endorsed by Rockwell Automation. ProSoft Technology is a Rockwell Automation Encompass Partner.

Two Rockwell Automation ControlLogix redundant PACs are inside each of the 20-meter towers to control the opening and closing of the barrier, but much of the equipment the control system spoke to was PROFIBUS or Siemens based. Two PROFIBUS Master communication module (MVI56-PDPMV1) from ProSoft Technology were installed inside the ControlLogix PACs to facilitate communication from the Rockwell Automation processors.

“The ProSoft Technology modules were utilized to provide PROFIBUS DP into the ControlLogix rack and permitted four separate PROFIBUS DP segments for redundant operation,” Andrew Garwood said.
Fiber optic cables were installed between the two towers, as part of the control system overhaul. While the cable links were being constructed, ProSoft Technology 802.11 Industrial Hotspot radios served as the communication link.

“The wireless link was then used as an automatic fallback connection should fiber optic connection be lost. The ProSoft Technology equipment was selected for its flexibility and support of the spanning tree protocol (RSTP) “, Andrew Garwood said.

ProSoft Technology’s solutions helped ease the engineering work by making it possible for the ControlLogix system to communicate as one single protocol.

The system now allows data to be reviewed quickly, centrally and remotely, providing convenience when accessing diagnostic information.

Thousands of homes and businesses are now safely protected.


Process optimisation by Real-Time Control!

23/08/2014
Major installation at English sewage treatment works.

Wessex Water, an English water authority,  is investing around £20m at its Taunton sewage treatment works to improve the facilities for wastewater and sludge treatment in a project that is due for completion by the end of March 2015. The upgrade to the works under the DWF (Dry Weather Flow) Improvements Scheme will increase the site’s treatment capacity whilst also improving the efficiency and quality of the treatment process, lowering energy costs and reducing the site’s carbon footprint.

Prior to the implementation of the DWF Scheme, the STW was comprised of an inlet pumping station and balance tank, coarse and fine screens, grit removal (detritor), primary settlement tanks, a conventional ASP & biological filter beds, final & humus tanks and final effluent lagoons. The construction work involves the creation of a new four-lane ASP to replace the existing 16 biological filters. To facilitate this, one of the lagoons and four of the filters are being taken out of service to create space for the new works, and this has allowed all development to remain within the existing site boundaries enabling most works to be constructed under permitted development rights.

tauntonProcess optimisation of the new ASP stage will be achieved through implementation of Hach Lange’s Real-Time Control (RTC) system, which monitors influent ammonium concentration and dissolved oxygen concentrations along the aeration lanes, providing more efficient control of the fine bubble diffused aeration. The measurement of other quality parameters in the process train provides feedback to the RTC. A reduction of up to 15% energy usage is anticipated as a result.

Balfour Beatty has provided the civil works and Nomenca Ltd is responsible for the supply, installation, commissioning, and performance testing of the mechanical and electrical components of the new works. Contracts Manager Trevor Farrow says, “Nomenca’s reputation is built on a track record of successfully delivered projects, and the relationships that we develop with both clients and suppliers are key to this success. We have already worked with Hach Lange’s instrumentation on a wide variety of projects, so we are confident that this project will be a further success.”

As Project Manager for Wessex Water, Garry Orford says: “The drivers for this works upgrade include an increased treatment capacity requirement and a tightening of the consent, taking in to account longer-term requirements that may be implemented in AMP6. We have already implemented Hach Lange’s RTC process optimisation systems at our Holdenhurst plant – 175,000 PE – near Bournemouth, and this has delivered energy savings of around 25% so we are confident that we can repeat this success at Taunton – 85,000 PE.”

taunton2Following completion of the new works, the site will meet the following consent conditions:

  • Dry Weather Flow (DWF)   30,595 m3/d
  • Sanitary parameters BOD:SS:AmmN 15:30:3 mg/l

In addition to the upgrade of the sewage treatment facilities, a third anaerobic digester (AD) is also being built at the Taunton works. “This will increase our capacity to generate renewable energy and further reduce our electricity bill,” according to Garry Orford. “The power generation of the AD plants is fairly stable, but the energy demand of the treatment plant varies according to the load, so there will be occasions where we can sell energy back to the grid, and others where we will continue to have a power requirement. It is essential therefore that we use this power as efficiently as possible.” 

Real-Time Control in industrial processes is commonplace. However, wastewater monitoring represents a greater challenge because of its physical and chemical variability. Historically, wastewater monitoring technology was prone to drift (especially galvanic dissolved oxygen monitors) and required a high level of maintenance, so RTC was not feasible. However, the latest sensors offer much higher levels of reliability than was possible in the past, with substantially lower levels of maintenance and recalibration. This has been a major factor in enabling the development of RTC in wastewater treatment. In addition, many of the latest sensors provide a ‘health status’ output in addition to the readings. As a result, if any problems arise they can be quickly remedied, and control systems can ignore data from sensors that are not performing to their target specification.

Monitoring technology
The capital outlay for the addition of RTC to a treatment plant is relatively small; the most significant extra cost is the requirement for extra sensors plus the RTC unit. The Taunton build includes the installation of the latest sensors for dissolved oxygen, ammonium and turbidity, controlled by an sc1000 network, providing reliable data on the influent, and from within the treatment process.

IMG_0056The LDO sc dissolved oxygen sensor employs an optical luminescence method for calibration-free and drift-free measurements. Once the construction work is complete there will be four new lanes, each with three zones, so a total of 12 LDO probes will monitor dissolved oxygen.

In addition, two SOLITAX ts line dip probes will measure Mixed Liquor Suspended Solids (MLSS) content in the aeration lanes and the solids content of the Returned Activated Sludge. The RTC at Taunton will also control sludge retention time, which enhances plant efficiency. The suspended solids probes employ a patented dual scattered light method with a built-in wiper, to provide colour-independent measurement of solids without a requirement for calibration. Ammonium measurements will be undertaken at both the entrance and exit of the aeration lanes with two AMTAX sc instruments; high-precision analysers that continuously collect samples via an air-bubble cleaned filter probe. The ammonium analysers will be mounted directly over the filters to minimise the distance travelled by samples.

Real-Time Control
The Hach Lange RTC is implemented on an industrial PC which communicates with an sc controller network and the local PLC. The RTC system determines the most efficient aeration level and continuously feeds DO set points to the PLC which controls the blowers. This means that under RTC, DO set points are no longer ‘fixed’, instead they ‘float’ according to the load. The RTC modules continuously deliver set points to the PLC, which applies them to the process. This ensures that response to changing conditions is immediate. The algorithms employed by the N-RTC (Nitrification Real Time Controller) are mainly based on the Activated Sludge Models of the International Water Association.

The N-RTC also constantly reads the NH4-N concentration at the outlet of the aeration lane. This value provides a feedback control loop and ensures that the DO concentration is fine tuned to achieve the desired ammonium set point at the end of the ASP. In this way, the N-RTC control module combines the advantages of feed forward and feedback control, which are (1) rapid response, (2) set point accuracy and (3) robust compliance.

Aeration to achieve the biological oxidation of ammoniacal compounds to nitrate is the most energy intensive process at activated sludge plants because blower power consumption can represent over 50% of total costs at some plants. However, in addition to the advantages of the process optimisation system, four new Sulzer high speed HST-20 turbo-compressors are being installed by Nomenca, following trials on similar units by Wessex Water. These machines employ a control system that manages both the number of blowers to run, and the speed of the blowers, which will further improve energy efficiency.

Summarising, Garry Orford says: “Wessex Water has an ambitious long-term objective of carbon neutrality, and these improvement works projects provide us with useful opportunities to make a significant contribution to that goal.”


Invensys acquisition: “Now, it is up to how well we execute.”

24/03/2014
Craig Resnick of Arc says “Schneider Electric acquisition of Invensys creates value for automation market”

Schneider Electric announced the completion of its acquisition of Invensys on January 17, 2014. The acquisition of the €2.18billion ($3 billion) software, automation, and controls company will enhance Schneider Electric’s position as a solutions integrator, especially for automation in the process and power generation industries.

schinvThe merger should create synergies between the two companies’ software for energy automation, industrial automation, and process automation, while also providing a wider service base for its customers as the combined company will be able to reach more market segments throughout the world due to the minimal overlap of markets and customer base. Jean-Pascal Tricoire, Chairman and CEO of Schneider Electric, and Clemens Blum, Executive Vice-President of the Industry business unit both commented on the complementary technologies and capabilities of both companies and the potential value to their customers worldwide.

At their recent Orlando Industry Forum in Orlando (FL USA), ARC Advisory Group met jointly with leaders of both firms. Just weeks after beginning to collaborate, both firms talked about their high degree of cultural match, and voiced optimism for the merger as a growth deal, rather than acquisition of an installed base.

While clearly stating that Invensys developments and operations will continue, there are strong areas of shared knowledge that ARC expects to benefit both companies.

  • How will this translate to plant owner/operators, especially those who have been using Invensys products for many years?
  • How well will their investments be protected?
  • How will Schneider Electric position and use these products going forward?

Invensys’ large client base will need to hear specific and unequivocal answers to these questions before moving forward and extending their commitments to the newly merged organization.

The firms have been making joint calls on key customers and, according to company executives; a more detailed integration roadmap will be developed via a “transparent, thoughtful, and deliberate process.” While the merger now elevates Schneider Electric to the top rank of the automation business, as company executives acknowledged, “Now, it is up to how well we execute.”

Strategic Fit to Drive Higher Growth and Value Creation
From Schneider Electric’s perspective, the Invensys acquisition augments its business in industry and infrastructure by boosting its positions in key process segments and strengthening its software for operational efficiency. The company cites that industrial automation is a strategic and attractive business for the firm. As a global specialist in energy management, the solutions of the Schneider Electric Industry business unit are a key part of its portfolio. The Invensys assets help the company better address owner/operators’ challenges relative to productivity, input costs management, workforce scarcity, wage and raw material inflation, complexity of production constraints, and sustainable development.

Integrate Power and Automation
Owner/operators today seek solutions that converge previously separate domains, such as power and automation. This was a prime reason Schneider Electric went forward with this acquisition. Energy management in electro-intensive industries requires deeper architectural integration. Software is critical to converge IT and operational technologies to enable operational efficiency. Convergence involves integrating:

  • Business systems, such as customer management, order management, supply chain management, and document management
  • Operations management, such as production management, quality compliance, asset utilization, process analytics and decision support
  • Control and supervision, such as production automation systems, and interfaces for operators (HMI); and finally
  • Design and simulation, such as supply chain planning, process design, and simulation

What Invensys Brings to the Table
Invensys is a global automation player with large installed base and a major software presence. The company has strong credibility with end users in the refining, chemical, power, pharmaceutical, and food & beverage industries. The company has a strong software business, with particular strengths in HMI/plant intelligence, simulation, optimization, and asset management. It brings major brands in process automation and safety and global reach in process automation, safety, and instrumentation systems via its Foxboro, and Triconex brands. The Eurotherm brand adds temperature and process controllers.

In industrial software, Invensys is a major supplier, including design, simulation, optimization, operations management, and asset management via its Wonderware, SimSci, and Avantis brands. Except for parts of the Wonderware portfolio, these brands will fill obvious gaps in Schneider Electric’s process offering.

Invensys’ Market Position
With Invensys, Schneider Electric becomes a leader in process safety via Triconex process safety and critical control systems. Schneider Electric gets a DCS offering with a large installed base via Foxboro, which has significant brownfield expansion potential. Schneider Electric can expand this potential with its own portfolio of low and medium voltage drives, motor control, and smart infrastructure intelligence. The company also gains domain expertise and execution capabilities in key segments, including refining, petrochemicals and power generation. Schneider Electric will no longer be viewed largely as a strong factory automation company. With Invensys, it clearly becomes a strong process automation company as well.

Even more to the point, the combined software and product portfolio will provide a far more complete suite of converged automation and power solutions.

Conclusion
From ARC’s perspective, Schneider Electric’s acquisition of Invensys will be a positive development for owner/operators. Owner/operators would not have been as well served had Invensys been bought by a direct competitor focused more on its installed base, which would have introduced significant product redundancies and might well require expensive and painful migration.

Also, some owner/operators were uncertain of the long term prospects for Invensys remaining independent. That uncertainty can now go away. Schneider Electric has a strong balance sheet, a long-term commitment to industrial automation, and a very good track record with industrial acquisitions. The joint entity is also in an excellent position to supply the converged solutions in areas such as power and automation that many of today owner/operators seek.

Owner/operators, however, will want to see action and proof points to see how well this acquisition is being executed and how well the firm integrates its platforms to exploit obvious synergies.

ARC recommends that owner/operators should actively participate in the company’s upcoming customer conferences, looking for both continuity and a combined vision showing solutions that leverage both Invensys’ process solutions and Schneider Electric’s power and energy management solutions.


Wireless moves! More on ISA100 from Nick Denbow

18/04/2013

“Honeywell ‘moves on’ with ISA100 specified!” says Nick Denbow in this item from the April issue of  Industrial Automation and Process Control Insider

(The INSIDER is delivered by email as a typically 12 page, 8000 word monthly newsletter in a pdf format and now in mobile tablet or cellphone format. Subscriptions may arranged. The newsletter is read by automation professionals world-wide, in around 80 different organizations. Subscribe here!)

ndenbow

Nick Denbow

Last month the INSIDER discussed the abandonment of the ISA100.12 committee deliberations, without any final result or report. This has produced no comment or reaction from the ISA directly: while they do not subscribe to the INSIDER, they were provided with an advance copy of that issue.

What is more interesting is that a correspondent with close links to Honeywell has confirmed that all “new” OneWireless instruments from Honeywell are now shipped with the ISA100.11a protocol.

Development history
The Honeywell involvement with wireless transmitters, and indeed their ‘OneWireless’ systems pre-dated the ISA100 standard. Indeed Honeywell put in a lot of expertise and specification suggestions gained from their OneWireless systems into the ISA100 standard development process. OneWireless did have a different protocol to the standard that eventually emerged as ISA100.11a. However, Honeywell made the commitment that “all OneWireless pre-ISA100 instruments supplied will be upgradable, or able to migrate to, ISA100 wireless”.

• See also Gary Mintchell’s “Puzzlement In Industrial Wireless Network Land,” written on his return from the Hannover Fair!

Latest release from Honeywell
Honeywell issued a press release early in April, announcing a new version of OneWireless, which is named as “Release 210 (R210)”. This stated to include “over-the-air field device provisioning and a Gateway General Client Interface made possible by the ISA100 standard”. Ray Rogowski, global marketing director for wireless in HPS is also quoted to say: “With OneWireless Release 210, users can benefit from the flexibility and scalability offered by the ISA100 standard….”.

This does seem to be a statement from Honeywell fairly definitely saying that OneWireless Release 210 will be using ISA100, which is a welcome change of emphasis compared to previous news releases. To interpret some of the phrases used I spoke to Soroush Amidi in their Networks and HPS Wireless Solutions Team.

The official HPS view
1wirelesshwellAmidi explained the OneWireless history, in relation to the release versions quoted. Full exproduction ISA100 compatibility came not after the addition of the Cisco Aironet 1552 access point in November 2011, as previously assumed by the INSIDER, but with Release R200, which was announced in June 2010: so actual deliveries started approx from 1-1-2011. In fact, the Cisco Aironet access point was introduced for clients who preferred to have Cisco systems in their IT structure, and needed the wifi interface also provided. Diederik Mols, introducing the Aironet at the HUG European meeting (INSIDER November 2011 page 5) specifically mentioned Shell in this context. The HPS Multinode and separate Field Device access points are both still available and offered with R210.

Prior to R200, the OneWireless R120 had offered all the functionality of ISA100, but did have a different protocol to the standard that emerged as ISA100.11a. However, Amidi stated that “all OneWireless R120 systems and instruments can be upgraded to ISA100 wireless using an over-the-air download”, if the customers have a need to move up/upgrade to this R200 level. In a similar way R200 systems can be migrated to R210 using another over-the-air software upgrade.

New OneWireless features
With R210 Amidi explained the language used in the recent press release, which originates somewhat from the detailed, somewhat esoteric wording of the ISA specification work. Field device ‘provisioning’ relates to the initial acceptance of a new device onto the network, by passing over the network access code: the ISA standard has the option for clients to do this either wirelessly, or via a local infra-red communications device, which is seen to add more security in some situations.

More interesting perhaps is the Gateway General Client Interface (GCI). HPS says  “The GCI feature, enabled by the ISA100 standard, allows operations to continue using legacy protocols and proprietary applications while making it easier to wirelessly expand those applications throughout the plant. The GCI also allows third party client applications to communicate natively using proprietary or common field protocols with wireless field instruments over the ISA100 network.”

GCI examples
Soroush Amidi explained this in terms of working with Enraf radar level gauge systems, which use a proprietary protocol to send custody transfer data to the Enraf Entis Pro software application, or GE Bently Nevada vibration monitoring systems which use a proprietary protocol to send the vibration signatures to their System 1 software application. This data can be wrapped in an ISA100 compatible packet, which is allowed within ISA100, and transmitted over the network, for unwrapping at the other end, and delivery to the appropriate analysis system: the whole process is described as ‘tunneling’ the data. Vendors such as Enraf and Bently Nevada are pleased to take advantage of this system, says Amidi, as it retains their intellectual property and proprietary information processing, takes advantage of a plant wide wireless network, but does not require the significant development work and investment by them in producing a fully ISA100 compliant sensor.

Further information on ISA100
Amidi pointed out that much of the information about ISA100 installations is passed by personal contacts, and by such routes as the ISA100 interest group on ‘Linked in’ – where Amidi seems to have been the main recent commentator. A recent addition there is a video from the ISA WCI technical seminar in Kyoto back in 2011, where Berry Mulder from Shell Global Solutions, who is also a director of WCI, explains why wireless is so important to Shell.

Wireless gas alarms
The Shell presentation laid emphasis on the need for wireless gas detection (and personnel location) which brought to mind the Honeywell wireless gas detector, a product development mentioned as essential in relation to the Shah Gas project some two and a half years ago (INSIDER November 2010 page 3, and November 2011 page 7). Still no listing for such a product on the WCI ISA100 product lists, so presumably the devices that were quoted as delivered to Shah Gas in 2012 used plain OneWireless compatibility.

GasSecure on WCI list
However, the GasSecure infra-red hydrocarbon gas detector from Norway mentioned at the Invensys OpsManage11 conference (INSIDER November 2011 page 7) does have a WCI listing, even if no approval is quoted.


Three hundred years of valves!

21/03/2013

Now process valves that can ‘think’ for themselves

Amazingly the modern process valve has been with us for over 300 years, regulating the flow of liquids under pressure. Since then, the basic process valve has remained the same in principle, but with the ever growing automation of drinks, food and confectionary production the control of process valves has inevitably become more complex.

PR1450_32610The general trends in factory automation have been heading towards more precise control and more information being gathered at device level, in order to provide feedback for control loops and better information for increasingly sophisticated plant visualisation, management and reporting software.

Better control has also paved the way for continuous processes, reduced waste, improved hygiene and greater efficiency. However, in some applications the tide is now turning back towards a focus on the valve itself; increasingly intelligent and robust field control devices are allowing valves to talk to each other and work independently to an increasingly complex set of rules and parameters.

So, when is centralised control still desirable and how can de-centralised control be employed to improve process systems?

Automated process valves, depending on their size and design can either be ‘piloted’ i.e. a pressurised air supply or pressure from the medium being controlled is used to actuate the valve, or, an external actuator is used (typically an electric ball screw or pneumatic / hydraulic cylinder on larger valves), or, an electric solenoid is used.

These items are usually connected to a PLC or other electronic controller, one which uses a software program or routine in order to keep the sequence and operation of the process valves in synchronisation with the desired pressure, flow and mixing required of the fluid being controlled.

If a compressed air supply is available, then piloting the valves may be the right option and there are some innovative solutions on the market to connect large numbers of pneumatic control air lines to a control valve manifold block in a hygienic environment.

One example is Bürkert’s new AirLINE Quick interface that offers a reliable, compact and time-saving solution for the direct mounting of valve islands and automation equipment into a stainless steel control cabinet, suitable for food grade wash down environments. Eliminating the need for individual bulkhead connections, and internal piping, it has rows of push-fit connectors and exhaust valves integrated into one stainless steel interface plate. It allows for an altogether smaller design of control cabinet for hygienic process actuation in the food, beverage or pharmaceutical industries.

When connecting larger numbers of process valves, which are often required in high densities for continuous process applications – typically supplying fluids such as ingredients or for CIP processes in confectionary production – then a distributed control approach may be more suitable. Using fieldbus protocols such as ASi, Profibus and DeviceNet allows individual valves to be connected using just one or two cables.

There is an excellent solution, again pioneered by Bürkert, that allows process valves from a wide variety of manufacturers to be controlled centrally, or indeed given a level of independence; Bürkert’s new Type 8681 control head offers the key advantage of universal fitment onto third- party hygienic valves: single seat valves, double seat, mix proof, and also quarter turn ball and butterfly valves that have linear stainless steel actuators. The 8681 is compatible with a full range of fieldbus communication networks, and is enclosed in a robust housing that is rated up to IP67 enabling it to be washed down and cleaned safely.

For the final layer of distributed control, many process valve automation applications can now dispense entirely with the control cabinet, bringing true process automation down to valve level. Bürkert’s type 8793 controllers are essentially designed to cut costs in processing applications by allowing a systems engineer to replace an entire control cabinet with one neat controller with a built-in backlit display and keypad.

The relative costs of a separate enclosure, rack mounted plc, I/O, cabling, power supply, HMI etc. can effectively be replaced with just one small control unit that can be mounted either on or very near to the process valve.

The key to finding the best possible automation solution is ultimately through an analysis of each individual part of the plant or installation. In this way, the question of where plant intelligence should rest can be answered: i.e. does the nature of the application require centralised control interfacing to non-intelligent nodes, or does the physical size of the system mean that control has to be decentralised – using a fieldbus system and intelligent valves and actuators, or, can smaller machines or areas be controlled by one localised but powerful process controller – the answer could a mixture of all the options, but the advantage today is that there are new and innovative solutions available for each